• Kyodo


The government plans to craft measures by spring to achieve its goal of attracting 10 million foreign tourists this year.

“In addition to revitalizing the economy, tourism is extremely important in promoting friendly ties with other countries,” tourism minister Akihiro Ota on Tuesday told the first meeting of a new task force aimed at devising programs to attract overseas travelers.

The task force, headed by Ota and consisting of senior officials of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, will discuss what can be done in areas such as aviation, rail transport and city planning to create a more comfortable stay in Japan for foreign visitors.

The number of tourists from abroad rose to 8.37 million in 2012, the second-highest figure on record and almost at the level seen prior to the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns.

But the total fell below the target of 9 million set by the ministry, undermined by tensions with China over the Senkaku islet dispute.